The Sennheiser MKH 416 has been the most respected shotgun microphone for decades. It was considered industry standard for many years, and it was not only used on location but in voiceover booths as well. Its fantastic resistance to RF and humidity are just two reasons why it’s still used today on set and as the standard for the ultimate backup microphone. Popular products are always susceptible to counterfeiting, and the Sennheiser MKH 416 is definitely not an exception.
There are many people that think identifying a fake Sennheiser MKH 416 is very easy, but it isn’t unless you know exactly what you’re looking for. I can say from personal experience that the counterfeits are well made on the outside and can pass a quick inspection and decent quality pictures. I’ve seen experienced sound mixers purchase a fake only to find problems after they plug it in.
Let’s begin on ways to identify a fake Sennheisher MKH 416 and how to protect yourself from purchasing a knock-off.
The Seller and the Price
If you’re not buying from a reputable dealer you will have to be very vigilant and scrutinize every detail. It will be very difficult to fully identify a fake by an online seller without plenty of legitimate high-quality pictures.
On average, a used genuine 416 will sell for approximately $700 (USD) and a new-in-box would sell for about $1000. Online sellers of the counterfeit 416 usually price them between $400 and $600 for a new-in-box. Be aware that genuine new-in-box 416s do go on sale at major retailers for $600. As of the last update to this blog post, the last $600 sale was at the end of December 2016.
You can easily spot the price difference with eBay sellers shipping from China. Always be cautious as sellers on sites like Craigslist and Kijiji tend to price these counterfeits at genuine prices. If you were to go on eBay right now, you could probably find an auction for a counterfeit 416 with over 20 bids.
Packaging, Storage Case and Reading Materials
There are two things you should pay attention to when you look at the label, the model number and the serial number.
On some counterfeit 416 boxes it reads, “MKH 416 P48 3U“. The actual model of the 416 is, “MKH 416 P48 U3“.
Secondly, the serial number reads, 00111502. This is a serial number that you will find on most of the fake 416 packaging. If you see this number or one that is similar, walk away. This number will also not match the serial number at the base of the XLR connector. We will get into that later.
The Carrying Case
The exterior of some fake MKH 416 carrying cases are extremely similar to a genuine one. There is one problem that you should be able to spot though. As you can see above, the logo and brand name look like they have been painted on by hand.
The manual has a very similar cover to the genuine version, but a few people have mentioned that the staple holding the manual together was extremely rusted.
It was also found that in the fake 416 manual there were references to a “quattro” microphone rather than a Sennheiser microphone.
The two accessories that come with a fake 416 are the windscreen and microphone holder.
The foam windscreen included with fakes are slightly different to the genuine article. Look at the tip of the windscreen in the image above. Fakes will have a sharp edge around the tip as if the foam had been cut straight. The genuine 416 foam windscreen will have rounded edges on its tip.
The microphone holder is a replica of the Sennheiser MZQ-100. There are a few revisions of the MZQ-100, but I can say that the usual fake MZQ-100 uses an unpainted brass Phillips bolt. From what I’ve researched, the genuine MZQ-100 bolt is either an unpainted brass flathead or black Phillips bolt.